Today on the blog, we’re talking all about how to unpack after a family road trip. It can be so overwhelming when you get home, the car is a mess, the kids are cranky, and the laundry pile comes up to your waist. Below are some tips on how to prioritize the chaos and set yourself up for success as you return to the normal routines of life.
Empty Your Vehicle
First thing when you get home, get your vehicle completely emptied. All luggage, food, trash, etc. Then you’ll know exactly what stuff you’ve got to deal with, and your vehicle will be ready to go straight to the car wash for a full scrub-down and vacuum.
Put Away Food
When looking at how to unpack after a family road trip, I prioritize based on what is most time sensitive, and food in the cooler definitely falls in that category. I unpack all of the cooler food, tossing in the garbage what’s no longer good and consolidating any leftovers before storing stuff in the fridge. I also go ahead and unpack our dry goods box while I’m at it, but before I do anything else in the kitchen, I move on to laundry.
Get Laundry Started
Ahh, laundry. Quite possibly the most dreaded task when returning from a family road trip. I have everyone in the family (well, technically just my husband and I since our kids are still babies) drop dirty laundry in one huge pile in the living room. I then take it from there and start running loads in the washing machine. Now, if you’re able to do laundry along the way on your road trip, that definitely makes your task easier at the end, but we were camping, which makes doing laundry difficult.
Just getting that first load of laundry into the machine helps me feel like I’m getting some momentum and making progress in our unpacking.
Tidy the Kitchen
After laundry is going, I come back into the kitchen and do any dishes and cleanup that needs to be done. You may not have many dishes to do, but since we were camping and using our camp cook set, we had a bunch of dishes that needed to be run through the dishwasher and put away. Once I have the kitchen tidy and the counters are cleared and wiped down, then I feel like I have a good staging area to prep for the coming week.
I follow Clean Mama, and with her cleaning routine, clean counters are an essential part of having your home put together and in order. It never fails to help me feel like I’m getting things under control when the kitchen is clean.
Prep for the Coming Week
The next question I ask myself is “What do I need to get done to be prepped for the coming week?” It’s typical to come home from road trips on a Sunday, and that means Monday is coming fast, either with kids going to class and/or Mom and Dad heading to work the next day. Whether it’s making lunches, taking baths and showers, setting out clothes or packing backpacks, make sure you prioritize the tasks that will make starting the week easier.
Another small task I do is to quickly look at the calendar and see what’s coming for the week ahead. I bullet journal, so in my notebook, I sketch out a to-do list for the week and make sure I’m ready for what’s coming.
This is my last and best tip for how to unpack after a family road trip:
Get takeout for dinner.
When you’re exhausted and the entire family is ready to crash, lighten your load and pick up takeout on the way home. On our most recent trip, we grabbed a take and bake pizza, but anything that doesn’t require you expending energy in the kitchen works just fine. Even better, pull out the paper products and save yourself some extra dishes!
When you’re trying to figure out how to unpack after a family road trip, you can feel paralyzed because of everything that needs to be done. However, if you prioritize and take one task at a time, you’ll break through that paralysis in no time and be well on your way to getting back in the groove of normal life as a family.
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Wonderful post and great ideas. We have been doing a lot of camping which we love, but I feel that the packing up and unpacking is so exhausting! These tips are great especially about the laundry and getting take our or an easy meal! Would love to read your tips for packing for a family road trip if you have any!
Noted! 🙂 Thanks Julie!
Order take out is a great tip! It’s hard to give ourselves some grace sometimes but maybe it’s time to see it as a reward for a successful trip. Great post!
Yes! Giving some grace is so important.
Oh unpacking is definitely not one of my favorite things :)…great tips, totally agree with take out and not cooking while unpacking!
For sure! Thanks Liz! 🙂
Good idea regarding take out. We do a lot of family trips and unpacking is always the worst part in my opinion!
Agreed! Take out helps a bit. 🙂